Deaf Google employee celebrated as a diversity hire sues tech giant for discrimination

Jalon Hall/Instagram

A Black, deaf Google employee, Jalon Hall, has filed a lawsuit accusing the tech giant of discrimination based on her disability and race. Hall, celebrated previously as a success story for Google’s inclusive workplace, alleged that the company limited her access to sign-language interpreters and created a hostile and racially charged management environment.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Northern District of California and has drawn attention to Google’s practices regarding diversity and inclusion, according to the New York Post.

The lawsuit filed by Hall against Google alleged instances of discrimination, including a manager referring to her as an “aggressive black deaf woman” and advising her to “keep her mouth shut and take a sales role.”

Furthermore, Hall claimed she was excluded from roundtable discussions and denied promotion due to “inaccurate evaluation” after three years with the company.

“Google is using me to make them look inclusive for the Deaf community and the overall Disability community,” Hall said to Wired. “In reality, they need to do better.”

On LinkedIn, Google had lauded Hall for “helping expand opportunities for Black Deaf professionals,” while on Instagram, the corporation had featured the research analyst “for making #LifeAtGoogle more inclusive.”

According to Wired, Google recruiters assured Hall, who joined as a content moderator in 2020, that sign language interpreters would be provided and fully accommodated. However, when Hall was later tasked with enforcing YouTube’s child safety regulations, managers allegedly refused to provide interpreters to assist her in reviewing content.

Reportedly, Google expressed concerns about contractors being exposed to graphic imagery and confidentiality issues, despite U.S. interpreters following a confidentiality code of conduct.

Without her interpreter, Hall struggled to meet the quota of reviewing 75 videos per day, often spending excessive time on a single video before realizing she couldn’t adequately assess its content.

“I felt a sense of humiliation, recognizing that my career wasn’t progressing,” she said.

Hall remains a level-two employee at Google after three years, unlike the typical advancement to level three within this period for most employees, as reported by Wired. Google recently filed to dismiss the lawsuit, contending that the claims were untimely, although the company did not dispute the allegations.

Despite filing three HR complaints that resulted in minimal change, Hall chose to stay at Google to advocate for improved working conditions for her colleagues.

“It would be selfish to quit Google,” she told Wired. “I’m standing in the gap for those often pushed aside.”

Black and disabled employees are a minority within Google, which employs nearly 183,000 individuals. Company data from last year reveals that Black women, constituting around 2.4 percent of Google’s U.S. workforce, exhibit a disproportionately higher departure rate compared to women of other races.

Google’s deaf and hard-of-hearing employee group also comprises only 40 members, as per Wired. Hall not only sought personal compensation but also demanded that Google implement reinforcement policies to ensure future hires receive reasonable accommodation and have equal opportunities, similar to non-Black deaf employees with disabilities.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 18, 2024


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